A global think-tank today placed India among the 20 countries where the gender gap is the widest, while the country is sixth in economic inequality between men and women.
In its Global Gender Gap Report 2008 released today, Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked India at 113th position among 130 countries in the annual list, where Norway has moved to the top from its third position last year.
The rankings are based on four parameters-- economic participation and opportunity, education attainment, political empowerment and health and survival.
Norway, which has replaced Sweden at the first position, is followed by Finland, Sweden, Iceland, New Zealand, Philippines, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands and Latvia in the top ten. The Nordic countries have occupied all the four top positions in the list.
India has improved its overall ranking by one position from 114th last year, primarily due to improvement in better than average performance in political empowerment space.
In terms of economic participation and opportunity, India has been ranked 125th.
The country is placed at 25th rank in terms of political empowerment, while it is ranked 116th and 128th in terms of educational attainment and health and survival, respectively.
In its overall ranking, India is ranked lowest among the four BRIC countries. The neighbouring China has jumped 17 places to 57th rank this year on the back of narrowing gender gaps in educational attainment, economic participation and political participation.
Russia and Brazil are placed at the 42nd and 73rd positions, respectively. All the four BRIC nations have improved their rankings from the last year.
"India (113), Iran (116), Nepal (120) and Pakistan (127) continue to hold some of the lowest positions in the Asian rankings, but on average all four countries post gains relative to their own performances in 2006 and 2007, signifying a positive trend," WEF said in the report.
While much work needs to be done across the board in all the four countries, in particular to close gender gaps in education, India, Nepal and Pakistan are distinctive for performing above average in political empowerment, it added.
India is ranked ahead of countries including Iran (116), Nepal (120) and Saudi Arabia (128).
WEF noted that economic participation and opportunity refer to outcomes on salaries, participation levels and access to high-skilled employment while educational attainment stress on access to basic and higher-level education.
Political empowerment is measured as outcomes on representation in decision-making structures whereas health and survival are based on outcomes on life expectancy and sex ratio.
"Greater representation of women in senior leadership positions within governments and financial institutions is vital not only to find solutions to the current economic turmoil, but to stave off such crises in future," WEF's Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab noted.